LGBT Travellers in Zanzibar

Legalities around LGBT travel in Zanzibar
The law in Tanzania and Zanzibar is not supportive of any behaviour which isn’t heterosexual. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal and carries a lengthy prison sentence – up to life imprisonment. Homosexual behaviour, such as kissing in public places, is not tolerated under the law and could lead to arrest. Equally, same-sex relationships are not recognised by Tanzanian law.

The LGBT community in Zanzibar and Tanzania has become increasingly marginalized over recent years. The Tanzanian government became less tolerant after the election of President Magufuli in 2015, with politicians voicing the need to protect ‘traditional’ – read heterosexual - values. Since the death of Magufuli in 2021 and the election of Tanzania's first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the prospects for (human) LGBT rights have improved.
All that said, we know of very few occasions where such laws have actually affected travellers. The primary incident we have heard about occurred when a married, gay couple (not travelling with AMO Zanzibar Tours & Safari) with the same surname on their passports were asked what their relationship was. We understand that when they answered that they were married, they were refused entry and deported. So, while incidents of LGBT travellers falling foul of the law in Tanzania and Zanzibar do happen, they are exceptionally rare.
(While much of this sounds quite negative, there is a ray of hope.) Over recent years there have been a number of protests in support of LGBT rights in Tanzania.

Zanzibari attitudes towards LGBT travellers
Most people in Zanzibar live in small, traditional communities, where conservative attitudes are dominant. Islam is Zanzibar’s dominant religion, and most people in these communities are religious.
A recent survey in Tanzania found that 95% of participants felt that homosexual behaviour should not be tolerated in society.
As with many other African countries, the subject remains taboo in general conversation. Public displays of affection and overtly sexual behaviour of any kind are strongly frowned upon; many locals will consider this offensive. This is equally applicable to heterosexual and homosexual displays, and the advice is just as relevant in and around Stone Town, as it is in small, rural villages. To avoid confusion, be aware that in many parts of Africa, it is common to see friends holding hands; this doesn’t imply any sexual relationship but is common throughout traditional areas of Africa. However, to see unmarried visitors from overseas doing the same would be unusual, and might cause problems.

LGBT travellers on holiday
On the whole, the hotels and lodges that we send travellers to in Zanzibar typically have a fairly mixed, international clientele who come from a wide variety of backgrounds.
The staff here is typically very used to this, and we’ve rarely even had any raised

eyebrows when we’ve requested rooms to be configured as twins or doubles. It’s been done without fuss or comment. So regardless of a staff member’s personal views, these very seldom impact our travellers, or cause tension or offence.
In early 2023 we did have one gay couple visiting Zanzibar who reported that they were “made to feel very uncomfortable” by one staff member at a lodge who didn’t interact with them as he had with other guests. However, the same travellers also noted that “the other staff we interacted with were polite and friendly” – so we understand that the problem came from just one person of the hotel staff.
Incidentally, we’d always advise our travellers, gay and straight, to behave fairly conservatively while on Zanzibar – avoiding any public displays of affection.

Tips for traveling in Tanzania

About water in Tanzania

In Tanzania, the water is not drinkable. There are many stores where you can buy bottled water. However, if you want to act in a more sustainable way, we advise you to buy filtering bottles which will allow you to drink tap water. Moreover, it will prevent you from excessive consumption of plastic.

About dress code in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a predominantly Muslim territory (99% of the local population is Muslim). Therefore, in order to respect the local population, it is advisable to wear long clothes (covering the shoulders and knees) in Stone Town and when you go to the villages.

About life in Tanzania

The currency of the country is the Shillings. USD 1 is equal to 2,300 Shillings. There are bills of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 Shillings. 

The official language of the country is Kiswahili. English is a secondary language. Locals appreciate it when tourists know a few words in Swahili other than "Hakuna Matata" or "Pole Pole". Here are some easy-to-remember Swahili words!

    • Hello = Jambo or Habari 
    • Thank you = Asante
    • Thank you very much = Asante Sana 
    • Bye Bye = Kwaheri 
    • Cool = Poa 


Money in Tanzania

The currency of the country is the Shillings. USD 1 is equal to 2,300 Shillings. There are bills of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 Shillings. We advise bringing some cash because, in Tanzania, it will be easier to pay by cash than by card. By card, you will have some commissions, and, in a lot of shops or restaurants, they don’t take credit cards.


Internet connection in Tanzania :

It is possible to buy a sim card on the spot. Many operators such as Zantel or Vodacom are present in Tanzania mainland and/or Zanzibar. The sim card purchase costs about 2$ and you can get data.

Most of the time you will pay per week (check the price list): 

  • 7 GB = 10 000 Shillings
  • 12 GB = 20 000 Shillings


Visa :

Visitors must pay a $50 VISA upon arrival in Tanzania. This can be done online through the Tanzanian government website:

But it is also possible to do it at the airport when you arrive. You can buy your VISA at the international airports of Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam or Kilimanjaro.


About Safety

In Tanzania and Zanzibar, as in any city in the world, it is recommended not to walk alone at night. The cities in Tanzania and Zanzibar are not more dangerous than others. Be careful with your personal belongings as you do in your respective countries. Tanzanians will welcome you as they should!


How to protect your money and valuables

Opt for bags you can place on your chest to be safe. Like anywhere in the world, be careful with your belongings and don't carry a lot of cash in your bag. Take what you need for the day and keep the rest of your money in your accommodation.


Emergency contact details

In case of emergency do not hesitate to contact us at the following numbers:

Agency reception : +255 774 590 020 & reception.amoznztours@gmail

Amour Suleiman Amour El Hinawy: +255 777 486 463 &


When to go to Zanzibar?

The climate is different from mainland Tanzania. The rainy season starts in March and ends in May. This is a period when it rains on the island. The "cold season" lasts from June to July. Temperatures vary between 20 and 25 degrees. 

The archipelago also has a "small rainy season" in October and November. occasional showers fall on the islands which helps to cool the atmosphere because it is very hot during this period, about 30 degrees. 

And finally, the dry season, from January to March. temperatures can rise up to 35 degrees. it is a particularly humid and hot period due to the equatorial climate of the archipelago. 

The best season to come to Zanzibar is the "cold" season if you want mild temperatures and wind. If you want to enjoy the heat, it is advisable to come to Zanzibar between December and February. 

If you want to come to Zanzibar for kite surfing, it is advised to go during the cold season. 

Finally, the best time for diving is from September to March. 


When to go to Tanzania?

The wet season: It starts in March and ends in April. Temperatures can go down to 10 degrees in the mountainous areas of the country.

The dry season: begins in May and ends in October. temperatures are hot. temperatures can vary from 20 degrees to over 30 degrees. 

The "short rainy season": begins in November and ends in December. During this season, the country experiences short and localized rainy episodes. temperatures can vary from 17 to 28 degrees. 

The best time to go on a safari is from July to September. The dry season is the best time to observe the animals because they gather around the waterholes and are therefore less scattered in the parks. 

If you wish to observe birds, the ideal season is the rainy season, from March to April. 

To finish, if you want to enjoy the beaches, it is better to go during the dry season to fill up on Vitamin D!